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closing 2015

Megan Betz

Lucky's Market (and their chocolate-hazelnut croissants) = major cram session vibes as I ease toward exams.

Lucky's Market (and their chocolate-hazelnut croissants) = major cram session vibes as I ease toward exams.

At the close of 2015, I've started implementing some measure to help me be productive, calm, & focused. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the idea of comprehensive exams when I realize it's impossible to have everything read when I'm meant to begin. I'm prone to stress, to having so much in a day that I fall apart at the start of my day. My over-packed to-do lists leave me feeling hours behind by lunch, & I spend some of each afternoon rethinking how to approach the day or what to push off on other days. Here are things helping me maximize my productivity & stay calmer throughout the day.

  1. The Spark Planner is perfect for my personality type with ample room for each day, multiple sites for list-making, & ways to acknowledge your accomplishments. I'm trying to be better at that: looking back at the week & reminding myself of all I actually was able to get done. I say the same resolutions each year--stay calmer, get more done, appreciate myself more. This planner is forcing me to take the first steps to actually achieving those things. I can put tasks on my weekly list, rather than clogging days with to-do's that will need reshuffled, then just get to them as I have time.
  2. I've started utilizing normally mindless moments for mundane tasks. While I breastfeed, I typically scroll through Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. That's 20 minutes multiple times a day where I let myself fall into social media land. Funneling tasks like activating credit cards, making phone calls, & checking e-mail (1) keeps me productive & (2) lets me focus on larger tasks when I can move & have both hands free. I'm working on monotasking while working, because I'm much more efficient that way. Multitasking during breastfeeding helps me monotask where it matters.
  3. Making a resolution to watch less is futile, so I've started using Netflix to my advantage. I get one episode while I knock out other things: ironing, cooking & eating lunch, doing laundry. It means I get a finite chunk of time for domestic tasks & can't waste my day getting caught up in it, but I can enjoy that as my "down time" thanks to Mis. Fisher's Murder Mysteries in the background.
  4. I keep telling myself, "I am a writer." It often feels like I'm "just a student" in post people's eyes. I let myself fall into thinking that way, making room for all domestic tasks & childcare in my schedule while Joe's schedule goes uncompromised. I'm taking more room for myself, getting out of the house to do work while he stays with Madeline. I'm valuing my work more, trusting my writing more, & insisting that this year, I will send out my own work for publication.
  5. Like I said, I'm getting out of the house. While I love cafés, I let myself get distracting by the fun ambiance. A grocery, Lucky's Market, went in less than five minutes from our house. I can go there, get a latte + a snack for less than $3, do work, & make it home as Madeline's getting hungry. No need to pump, spend much money, or stray far from home--but I still get quiet work time & a feeling of accomplishment. Starting the day with two productive hours of work outside the house sets me up for a day of kicking ass when I come home.

So. That's the end of this Murder Mystery. I'm back to the grind, sifting through several works by David Harvey today as I work on my urban geography and political ecology reading lists. Sending wishes to you for a happy, productive, peaceful 2016.